Horses To Follow » Somersby


Somersby has been featured here twice before, once when he finished third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last March and again when he won well on his chase debut at Warwick, but he is worthy of another mention now after he won the Henry VIII Chase at Sandown on Saturday simply because this was another significant step forward by Henrietta Knight’s gelding. It was his jumping that impressed most. Tchico Polos set a strong pace, but Somersby’s jumping enabled him lie well within striking distance with minimum effort. By contrast, odds-on favourite, last season’s Champion Hurdle fourth Crack Away Jack, got in tight to a couple of fences, something you really can’t afford to be doing in a two-mile chase at Sandown. Somersby jumped the Railway Fences really well, which allowed AP McCoy ease off and sit in behind Tchico Polos on the run around to the Pond Fence, allow the horse fill his lungs, he flew the Pond Fence, the third last, up on the outside of the leader and he eased into the lead on the run around the home turn. He got in a little tight to the second last, which allowed Tchico Polos in again, but he powered down to the last as both Tchico Polos and Crack Away Jack rallied on the far side, jumped that fence well about a half a length up, and stayed on really well up the hill to come away and win by over three lengths.

It was interesting to listen to Henrietta Knight afterwards. The trainer was worried that the easy ground would have blunted the horse’s speed, the turn of foot that he possesses, that was in evidence on the run-in at Cheltenham last March. She said that he is quite a highly strung horse who usually doesn’t eat after racing, or even after going away to gallop, but there was no disguising the regard in which she holds this fellow. I had him down as a stamina horse – he has the size and scope of a staying chaser and he is a half-brother to RSA Chase runner-up Horner Woods – but he is not devoid of pace. He may still be a Gold Cup horse some day, but the aim this season is the Arkle, before which he will have one more run. He could be the one to put it up to Sizing Europe, he has speed, he has class, he has stamina, he is at his best on good ground and we know that he handles the track. Odds of 9/1 about him for Cheltenham are fair.

5th December 2009